The 2020 season was one to forget for Eric Lauer. In his first season with his new team, the Milwaukee Brewers, Lauer struggled mightily and couldn’t stick on the roster. Now, in 2021, he’s as valuable as ever to the Crew.
In November 2019, the Brewers made a four player trade with the San Diego Padres, sending budding star outfielder Trent Grisham and a consistent rotation presence in Zach Davies to San Diego in exchange for Luis Urias and Eric Lauer. The Brewers thought they were getting their potential shortstop of the future and a quality left-handed rotation piece in return.
In 2020, things certainly didn’t look that way. Urias struggled and missed some early time, leaving pretty much all of the shortstop duties to Orlando Arcia. Lauer also missed time with an injury and when he came back, he pitched in four games, went just 11 innings with a 13.09 ERA.
Many fans wrote off Lauer (and Urias for that matter) as a bad acquisition. It didn’t help that Grisham won a Gold Glove and had a breakout year for San Diego in 2020.
Eric Lauer is finally proving his potential in a key role in the Brewers rotation.
In the first half of the season, Eric Lauer was the sixth starter, coming up and making starts during long stretches as the Brewers tried to give each of their starters extra rest as they were coming off a shortened season.
He had a couple of rough outings early in June, including allowing seven runs in just two innings against Detroit, but overall was pretty solid in that role. In five outings in April and May, Lauer had a 2.45 ERA in 22 innings. Then his rough stretch from June 1st through June 20th, he had a 9.00 ERA in 16 IP.
But from June 27th onward, Lauer has been one of the Crew’s best pitchers, even if he doesn’t go as deep into games. In his last 35.1 IP, Lauer has just a 1.53 ERA, a .181 batting average against, and a .501 opponent OPS.
Lauer’s allowed just one earned run or less in six of his last seven outings. The only one where he didn’t, was on July 21st against the Royals, when he allowed two runs on just four hits.
Although Lauer doesn’t have the trust and name recognition that the Brewers top trio of starters have, he’s been pitching just as well lately. He doesn’t go as deep, and he doesn’t get the gaudy strikeout totals, but he’s been effective at limiting runs when he’s out there. He’s no longer just a “dominates the NL West” pitcher.
Granted, most of his outings have been against rebuilding teams with his last three outings and four of his last six coming against the Pirates. But those are still games the Brewers need to win and his ability to put the team in a very good spot in those games allows Craig Counsell to line up his big starters in the bigger games against tough opponents.
Lauer said earlier this year he wants to show Brewers fans that he was worth acquiring. He’s followed through on his promise.
With Brett Anderson becoming a free agent at the end of the season and unlikely to re-sign, there is going to be an opening in the Brewers rotation next year. Prospects Aaron Ashby and Ethan Small will battle for it, but Lauer is getting the first crack at showing he is worthy of the role and he’s doing an excellent job.
We talk plenty about Burnes, Woodruff, and Peralta in this Brewers rotation, and while that’s warranted, we also need to put some respect on Eric Lauer’s name.